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Serie A Preview: Lazio vs Inter

The Nerazzurri look to start off the new year on the right foot with a win at the Stadio Olimpico…

Claudio Villa

Rodrigo Palacio's exquisite backheel provided more than just a 1-0 victory over Milan as his late winner made for an extra-special festive period for Interisti everywhere.

A draw in the derby would have seen the Nerazzurri fall seven points off the pace in the race for the last Champions League spot but instead they are a manageable five and have some much-needed momentum heading into the new year.

There are still a number of question marks around Appiano Gentile as plenty of players are rumored to be coming and going in the winter transfer window.

Will Fredy Guarin be sold? Do we really have a chance at signing Juan Mata or Edin Dzeko? Are we going to finally snag a central defender?

What we do know for sure is that a trip to the Eternal City is on deck to face a Lazio side that is an absolute gong show at the moment. It's a soap opera of epic proportions.

The club's former manager Edy Reja, who tried unsuccessfully to resign on two separate occasions before finally stepping down after the 2012 campaign, is handling all the training sessions, while Vladimir Petkovic had to announce publicly that he was still indeed the coach even though he is set to become the Swiss National Team manager after the World Cup only to be officially sacked by the Italian club on Saturday.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction ladies and gents. So that's what were dealing with heading into the clash in the capital city. This should be a good time...


Date: Monday, January 6

Time: 12:30 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Olimpico


Inter Probable Formation: 3-5-1-1: Handanovic; Rolando, Ranocchia, Juan Jesus; Jonathan, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Alvarez, Nagatomo; Kovacic; Palacio

Lazio Probable Formation: 4-2-3-1: Marchetti; Konko, Biava, Dias, Pereirinha; Onazi, Ledesma; Candreva, Hernanes, Lulic; Klose

Unavailable For Duty: Saphir Taider will be sidelined for up to two weeks after sustaining a thigh injury in training while Cristian Chivu is almost ready to return from a knee operation in the off-season. Hugo Campagnaro is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the city derby.

Operation Unsavory Underbelly: To march into the capital city and take care of business against an undisciplined, disorganized, ill-trained opponent.

Enemy Of The State: Miroslav Klose continues to get the job done for Lazio in the twilight of his career. The old warhorse has scored four goals in nine Serie A starts, including a brace against Livorno on Dec. 12. The Inter back line will have to be alert to the whereabouts of the German striker at all times.

Fear Factor: 7: Lazio is as frightening as your loose cannon of a friend who has just chugged a litre of Jagermeister before ingesting some designer bath salts. No one is quite sure what will happen next. He might foam at the mouth and keel over or he could be an absolute terror for 90 minutes and rip somebody's face off.

Medal Of Honor: Palacio has been a poet warrior for the Nerazzuri this season scoring a team-high 10 goals, while running himself ragged on most matchdays. He's Inter's main threat at the moment and I think he'll start the new year right where he left off... with another winning goal.

If Inter Wins: I will crack the St. Bernardus Abt 12 that I had been planning on saving for the coldest, bleakest day in February.

If Inter Loses: I will sit breathing in the half-lotus position in a quiet, nondescript room, contemplating just how we dropped a game to a mangled mess of a Lazio team.

Likely Outcome: I'm not quite sure how this one is going to play out. I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be a free-for-all and let's just hope we are the last team standing. I'm not even offering a prediction for this clash. Seriously. Not doing it.